After You My Dear Alphonse

833 Words4 Pages
“After you, my dear Alphonse!” In the summer of 1943, during World War II, the tension between blacks and whites in America were escalating. This was the year that Shirley Jackson wrote “After you, my dear Alphonse”. This story gives us a very good understanding of what is really the terms for being a racist, and how it is only adults a childish behavior like racism affects. In this story a white woman’s, what seems to be generous behavior, is reviled as a racist with a judging attitude. There are three characters in this short story, Mrs. Wilson, Boyd and Johnny. Mrs. Wilson is the main character in the story, or, that depends on how you interpret it, but she is the one worth noticing. Johnny is her son. He is good friends with Boyd, who is African American. The two boys are young, since they do not get Mrs. Wilsons odd behavior later on in the story. Mrs. Wilson, just finishing baking gingerbread, hears her son Johnny arriving at home with his friend, Boyd, who is a bit smaller than Johnny. Boyd is carrying some wood, which they pretend is dead Japanese, and Mrs. Wilson reprimands Johnny for not helping his friend with carrying the wood. Mrs. Wilson invites Boyd to join them for lunch. Johnny and Boyd act naturally with one another, but Mrs. Wilson is suddenly very pushy and starts asking about Boyd’s family. Mrs. Wilson starts to ask Boyd about the profession of his father, when Johnny responds that he works at a factory. Mrs. Wilson immediately assumes that Boyd’s father is a hardworking man, who has to lift a lot of heavy stuff. When Boyd says, that in fact, he is a foreman, Mrs. Wilson hesitates. Mrs. Wilson also questions why Boyd’s mother does not work, but Johnny stops her, and points out that she too does not work. Mrs. Wilson is extremely condescending towards Boyd’s sister, particularly when Johnny tells that Boyd’s sister hopes to become a teacher,

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